A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Putting on Our Oxygen Mask First

Posted on: November 12, 2015

Maybe it’s because I’m the daughter of a pilot, or maybe it’s just that I’m a nervous flyer, but I always look at the safety brochure on a plane and listen to the explanation about where the exits are and what to do if the oxygen masks drop down during the flight.

We know it’s important to put on our own oxygen mask so that we’re able to take care of others, yet in our day-to-day lives, how many of us fail to meet our need for a healthy diet, exercise, sleep, or even medical care because someone else in the family might need something—and we have to be the one to meet that need?

Some readers might be nodding, thinking, “Yes, I practically have to beg my spouse to go to the doctor or take time off to rest.” At the same time, others might be wondering why their spouse makes time to take care of their family but not their own health.

Maybe we feel virtuous if we don’t slow down or if we try always to put others first. If that sounds familiar, read these words from Sirach 18:19*:

Before you speak, learn,

and before you fall ill, take care of your health.

If we work ourselves to exhaustion, whether inside or outside the home, what good will we be to our family? If we don’t eat properly, exercise, get enough rest, and see the doctor when we need to, will we enjoy a healthy retirement? Will we make it to our retirement years? Will we have the energy to fulfill our work or volunteer commitments, let alone appreciate our leisure time?

We may tell ourselves that we’ll have time to rest and be rejuvenated on the weekend, on our vacation, during our retirement, or (grimly) when we die. But if our to-do list doesn’t include self-care—dental, medical and eye doctor visits; healthy meals; some kind of fitness routine—we won’t be in any kind of shape to enjoy that downtime. And we need to remember that we aren’t guaranteed any tomorrows; God alone knows when this life will end:

Do not boast about tomorrow,

for you do not know what a day may bring forth.

~ Proverbs 27:1

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.”

~ James 4:14-15

(*Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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